Selective laser melting (SLM) is a rapid manufacturing process that enables the buildup of very complex parts in short delays directly from powder beds. Due to the high laser beam energy during very short interaction times and the high solidification rates of the melting pool, the resulting microstructure is out-of-equilibrium and particularly textured. This type of as-fabricated microstructure may not satisfy the aeronautical criterion and requires post heat treatments. Optimized heat treatments are developed, in one side, to homogenize and form the stable phases α and β while preventing exaggerated grain growth. In the other side, heat treatment is investigated to relieve the thermal stresses appearing during cooling. This study is aimed at presenting the various types of microstructure of the Ti-6Al-4V alloy after postfabrication heat treatments below or above the β transus. Tensile tests are then carried out at room temperature in order to assess the effect of the microstructures on the mechanical properties. The fine as-fabricated microstructure presents high yield and ultimate strengths, whereas the ductility is well below the standard. A strong anisotropy of fracture between the two loading directions is noted, which is attributed to the manufacturing defects. Conventional and optimized heat treatments exhibit high yield and ultimate strengths while the ductility is significantly improved. This is due to a new optimization of the process parameters allowing drastic reduction of the number of defects. These two heat treatments enable now a choice of the morphology of the grains between columnar or equiaxial as a function of the type of loading.
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The authors are grateful to Stephane Abed (Poly-Shape) for providing the Ti-6Al-4V material. They acknowledge the ANRT foundation for helping in the funding of this study.
Manuscript submitted August 23, 2010.
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Vilaro, T., Colin, C. & Bartout, J.D. As-Fabricated and Heat-Treated Microstructures of the Ti-6Al-4V Alloy Processed by Selective Laser Melting. Metall Mater Trans A 42, 3190–3199 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11661-011-0731-y